The Huasteca Region

by José Luis Ovalle

en Español⇒

Near the Gulf of Mexico, comprising parts of six states lies a region of sub-tropical climate known as "La Huasteca" (Nahuatl: Inhabitant from the region of abundant gourds). Southern Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, northeastern San Luis Potosí, northern Hidalgo, Querétaro and Puebla are parts of this region, abundant in resources and the home of several indigenous groups, with a hybrid language and culture, containing a vast array of ritual dancing, costuming, and music.

The Son Huasteco

Typical music and dance here are known as Huapango (Nahuatl: Dance on a resonant platform), which is a distant relative of seguidillas and fandangos, the two saddest flamenco styles. Flamenco is Southern Spanish folk music and dance, that is sad, languorous sorrowful and dramatic, reflecting the ambiance of its arid region.

Dancing is saturated with complicated foot stomping. Because of la Huasteca's abundant resources, the deep sorrowful singing is replaced with a music style that is a joyous celebration of life. The falsetto, vocal passages of sustained high tones, resembles the deep soul of the flamenco, however, the metric of huapangos is that of a son 3X4 or 6X8, light, rhythmic and of course given to musical and singing improvisation.


Except for modern Tamaulipas, all Huastecan female dancers wear the or quetchquémitl (Pronounced keskemet and called dhayem in Tenek, the modern language of huastecos) that means in Nahuatl, covering the top and the cueitl Nahuatl for wrap-around. These two garments along with the petob, also nahuatl for headpiece, are pre-columbian garments that have fortunately survived to the present. In states where the indigenous element is stronger the cueitl is embroidered to match the quetchquemitl.

The most widely used garb for huapangos today is the a recent creation of maestro Baldoseras from Monterrey; it consists of a quetchquemitl, embroidered with a styling of the poppy flower; a three-quarter length skirt and an apron decorated like the top.

The men wear a guayabera and carry a palm hat in the right hand. True huapango dancing was probably never done the way it is theatrically represented today but it is surely a favorite among seasoned dancers and musicians.

© Copyright José Luis Ovalle, 2007 - 2017. All Rights Reserved. Derechos reservados.

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